Aretha Franklin's children: how many kids did the singer have?

Aretha Franklin's children: how many kids did the singer have?

Aretha Louise Franklin is unarguably among the finest singers who ever lived. The iconic singer passed on in 2018, aged 76 years. Aretha's songs continue to transcend generations and will probably outlive her by decades. The singer's fans are familiar with some of her top hits, including Chain of Fools, Think and I Say a Little Prayer. What some may not be well conversant with are Aretha Franklin's children. Who are they, and did they take after their mother musically?

Aretha Franklin's kids
Aretha Franklin performs on stage at the Park West Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Paul Natkin
Source: Getty Images

The renowned musician was blessed with four sons. Here is a look at who they are.

Aretha Franklin's children

Here is a look at the musician’s four sons.

1. Clarence Franklin

How old was Aretha Franklin when she had her first child? Well, the renowned musician was only twelve years old when she gave birth to her first son, Clarence Franklin. The first of Aretha Franklin's sons was named after her father, the famous Baptist minister, CL Franklin.

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Aretha's first child was born in 1955, and according to the biographer David Ritz, the child's father was Donald Burke, one of Aretha's schoolmates. However, in one of the singer's handwritten wills, it was reported that Clarence's father was a man named Edward Jordan Sr.

Edward and Aretha would later have a second son in 1957. Clarence reportedly has the least interest in music among Aretha Franklin's kids. Still, he is said to have composed several songs, some of which his mother went on to record.

2. Edward Franklin

Aretha Franklin's sons
Edward Franklin sings at his mother's funeral service at the Greater Grace Temple on August 31, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Scott Olson
Source: Getty Images

Edward Franklin was born in 1957, just about two years after Clarence. Like Aretha Franklin's first child, her second born child's father was Edward Jordan Sr. The child developed a profound interest in music at a very young age and even performed with Aretha on several occasions.

While Edward never pursued a career in music, he did record a song with his mother for the famous Christmas album This Christmas, Aretha. Edward performed a song at his grandfather's funeral in 2015 and at his mother's funeral in 2018.

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During his grandfather's burial, Edward's rendition of His Eye Is on the Sparrow left the audience in tears. His performance was so good that he received a standing ovation at the end. Some of Aretha's fans might also recall when Edward was said to have been involved in an arson attack on his mother's Detroit house. However, he was never formally charged.

3. Ted White Jr

Aretha Franklin's family
Teddy Richards during Aretha Franklin Performs at B.B.Kings - June 25, 2004 at B.B. Kings in New York City, New York, United States. Photo: Derek Storm
Source: Getty Images

Aretha got married to her first official husband, a man named Ted White, in 1961. At this time, the renowned musician was 19 years old. Three years after her marriage to Ted, she gave birth to her third son, Ted White Jr.

The child grew up mostly in his father's native Michigan home but would spend weekends and holidays with his mother.

Ted, like the brother before him, was named after his father. Aretha's marriage to Ted did not last long. The two went their separate ways in 1969 after reports of domestic violence.

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Like his brother Edward, Ted is a talented singer and performed with his mother on several occasions.

Aretha's third-born son has had a successful music career with three albums to his name. He is known to most of his fans under his stage name, Teddy Richards.

4. Kecalf Cunningham

Aretha Franklin's sons
Kecalf Franklin poses with the Legacy Award he accepted on behalf of his mom at The Kennedy Center. Photo: Brian Stukes
Source: Getty Images

The musician had her fourth son, Kecalf Cunningham, in 1970 after a romantic stint with her road manager, Ken Cunningham. This came after her 1969 divorce from her former husband, Ted White. The singer's relationship with her manager became an important aspect of her life.

What started out as a strictly professional relationship blossomed into a romance. Soon afterwards, the two moved in together in New York. The name Kecalf is an acronym of his mother's and father's names -Ken E. Cunningham and Aretha Louise Franklin.

Where are Aretha Franklin's children now?

Some of Aretha's sons followed their mother's musical path, while others, well, not so much. For example, Clarence Franklin, the oldest son in Aretha Franklin's family, is not quite interested in music. While his mother had once mentioned that she would have loved all her sons to appear in a music album, this was never to be.

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Aretha's second born, Edward is not much into music despite being a remarkable singer. The fourth-born, Kecalf, is a Christian rapper and is married to a woman named Kafi. He once performed with his mother in a concert held at the Radio City Music Hall.

Aretha's third son, Teddy White Jr, took after her the most. Teddy is an accomplished singer and has performed with top-notch artists such as Al Green, Joe Cocker, and Nellie Furtado. Additionally, Teddy has several albums to his name, the best-known being Gravity (2006).

While Aretha Franklin’s children might not be as world-famous as their later mother, they have definitely carved out names for themselves. The ones who have chosen to follow careers in music seem to be doing great, a testament to their mother’s inspiration and influence.

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Besides her daughter, though, Marcella was also well known as the wife of famous singer and military man Abraham Quintanilla Jr. She currently works as a social worker and runs The Selena Foundation.


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